Should You Ditch Jogging For Sprinting?

By Adam Gilchrist

Most people who are new to exercising and want to lose weight start by doing long, grueling sessions on the treadmill or are outside pounding the pavement day after day. Its not hard to see why, the gym is full of well-intentioned people who think that the way to a lean, fit body is endless hours of jogging. While it is true that by doing hours of steady state cardio you will lose weight, it is not healthy weight. Most of the weight loss you will experience will come from loss of water and muscle tissue. Water weight loss is temporary and losing muscle will slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store body fat. You are also training your body to use fat more efficiently. While this sounds like a good thing, it is actually bad for fat loss. You actually want your body to be as INEFFECIENT using fat as possible. This means that your body will use MORE fat to accomplish a task than if you were more efficient at using fat for fuel. When it comes to fat loss, the most effective method is actually the least intuitive: shorter-high intensity sprints is significantly better for fat loss than long steady state cardio. This type of cardio is called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.

High Intensity Interval Training

So what exactly is high intensity sprint interval training? HIIT training involves doing short (usually 10-15 seconds), intense sprints at maximum intensity followed by a short rest period.

Why is HIIT Superior to Long Distance Running

There is an anabolic effect – Research has shown that doing sprint training along with eating more calories can actually help you build muscle, which in turn burns more fat even when you’re inactive. Have you never noticed a sprinter’s build compared to a marathon runner? The anabolic effect is a factor (though certainly not the only factor) in that striking body difference.

Increased Aerobic capacity – Doing intense sprints that push your body’s systems to the limit increases the amount of oxygen your body can use. You’ll feel more energized and “fit” from doing sprints, compared to doing long, but low intensity cardiovascular exercise.

Increased Insulin Sensitivity – High intensity interval training causes your muscle groups to absorb glucose more readily, preventing it from being stored as fat.

Afterburn Effect – Doing interval training creates what some fitness experts have called the “afterburn effect”. In a nutshell, intense sprinting kicks the body’s metabolism into high gear, helping you burn off fat even 24-48 hours after your last workout.

Should You Stop Jogging?

This certainly doesn’t mean that you should avoid going for a jog around the neighborhood or hopping onto the treadmill for 30 minutes if you want to. On the contrary, for overweight or obese individuals, it’s essential to start building up a cardio base through jogging before you begin high intensity interval training. Many people also find going on long runs calming, almost meditative. And of course, going on long runs does burn calories, even if it doesn’t do so as efficiently as high intensity interval training. However, if you’re looking to burn fat more efficiently, build muscle, and maximize the efficiency if your workouts your best bet is to stop jogging and start doing HIIT.